Kids in families having dogs are more active: study

Kids in families having dogs are more active: study

Researchers at the University of London found that children in families with household dogs are doing 11 minutes of more physical activities that those without a pet. For their study, the researchers looked at 2,065 children aged between 9 and 10 over the course of seven days and recorded their movement levels through activity monitors.

The kids came from 78 schools in London, Birmingham and Leicester, 202 of whom owned dogs. Results showed children with dogs spent an average of 325 minutes (more than five hours) doing physical activity per day -- 11 more minutes than those without household dogs.

This included time spent in light, moderate, moderate to vigorous, and vigorous activity. Dog owners also spent 11 fewer minutes (562 minutes over the seven-day stint) in sedentary behaviour each day.

The pet owners were also found to take 360 more steps (four per cent) than the other kids, LiveScience reported. Lead researcher Christopher Owen, senior lecturer in epidemiology at St George's, said: "The more active lifestyles of children from dog-owning families [are] really interesting – is it that owning a dog makes you more active or that more active families choose to have a dog?"

"It's a bit of a chicken and egg question. Long-term studies are needed to answer it, but it may be a bit of both." Owen noted that previous studies comparing adults' activity levels before and after getting a dog have found people do tend to become more active afterward.

"If children really are going for walkies with their dog, this may be one way to encourage more kids to be active," Owen said. The exercise boost may also help the pups, as recent research has shown dogs are also battling the bulge and that human diet tricks may help. The study, carried out as part of the Child Heart And health Study in England (CHASE), was published in the American Journal of Public Health.

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